I had this in draft form ready to post on 6 April. That would have marked the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. However after today’s news it seems appropriate to post it now.
Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90
British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. The Somerset-born author came to fame in 1968 when short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.
Sir Arthur's vision of future space travel and computing captured the popular imagination… cont
Sir Arthur C Clarke: 90th Birthday Reflections:
So, on with the original post….
KiyoshiHiHiHi has posted an awesome CG exploration of the spaceship “Discovery” from the best science fiction movie ever made:
I’ve been fascinated by this movie since I first saw it as a child, about age 6 or 7. That it’s aged so gracefully is a tribute to the effort that went into making it’s technology as “real” as possible, given what they knew at the time, and highest production standards of the day. Especially when you consider it was released in 1968, when we hadn’t landed on the moon, and 2001 was still thirty three years in the future (I was two!). Even today it presents a plausible vision of the reality of long distance space travel.
Piers Bizony’s book 2001: Filming the Future is an awesome illustrated record of the production process from script development, design and filming, through to release. Sadly the “look inside” on Amazon doesn’t show any of the detailed design illustrations used for the craft, costumes and sets seen in the book. It’s worth buying for them alone but the story of it’s creation is also fascinating. Clarke & Kubrick seem to drive each other to new levels of excellence honing the novel/script and making the move.
Piers credits Harry Lange, Frederick Ordway and Tony Masters for production design. Lange & Ordway had worked with NASA and there was lots of input from other Aerospace, Aviation and Computer companies, many involved in the real space programme. He says IBM were heavily involved but chose not to be named after “HAL [the mission computer] was portrayed hijacking the ship then “disconnecting” the human end users”. All the “computer graphic instrumentation” seen in the movie was actually filmed cell animations projected into screens of the space ship sets/models. Apparently there are still a few IBM logos visible in the final movie although the often quoted “HAL is one letter off IBM” was denied by both Arthur & Stanley.
This CG exploration shows Discovery’s internal layout complete with centrifuge crew quarters. That set was built as a 40 Ft diameter “hamster wheel” so the astronauts could appear to walk on the roof in artificial gravity. You can also see the flight deck and the pod bays which led to the infamous line: “Open the pod bay doors, HAL".
We’ve come a long way since 2001 was made but it’s sad that much of that future, is still in the future. I have read the recent release 2001 - A Space Odyssey [on Blu-ray] shows the 70mm negative film in all it’s glory. I’m sure Stanley and Arthur would be pleased.